Wednesday, January 17, 2007

nature studies

Not being from an old Yankee family I only recently learned of life books, what bird watchers keep as a record of species they have spotted. However, I am helping the children learn to identify birds at our feeder, conveniently hung in front of a window in our schoolroom. We have seen lots of chickadees and sparrows, house and purple finches, and cardinals. In the backyard they can identify rock doves and robins, bluejays, and ravens. Yesterday we got a real treat perched on the wide trunk of a river birch tree- a downy woodpecker. Everyone's faces were pressed to the glass to watch it slowly hop up the tree, peck, cock its head around, and hop some more.

Up in Maine we have several birdfeeders as well, I can lie on the sofa, reading a book and look up periodically to spy goldfinches flitting in to eat thistle seed and perch in the branches of an enormous maple. Beside it is a hummingbird feeder, but I'm not as good about climbing the ladder to replace the syrup so we only had a few visitors this past summer. I don't make studying these things a required subject. Basically, mine is the lazy man's method of exposing the children to the wonders of nature. It might be working despite my reluctance to add more to our school day. Will told me the other evening that his favorite thing to do in the world was be on our farm in Maine- running around, making paths through the woods, climbing hay bales and trees. Maybe I will encourage them to keep a nature book, like a journal, to write and draw their nature discoveries.

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